Pennsylvania Company Claims It Has Solved Cold Fusion Mystery
Apr. 25, 1991
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ A Pennsylvania company claims to have solved the problem of reproducing a cold fusion reaction, but scientists were skeptical.
Mills Technologies of Lancaster, Pa., claims to have determined a non- nuclear mechanism for the purported phenomenon reported at the University of Utah two years ago.
Most scientists have been unable to duplicate the results of the Utah experiments.
Mills attributes the effect to a previously unknown reaction in which hydrogen atoms give up more energy than previously thought possible.
''Basically, we have both the theoretical and practical aspects solved,'' Mills' owner, Randell L. Mills, said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
He said the company has built cells that have produced up to 40 times as much energy as was put in.
The cold fusion reaction was reported by University of Utah researchers Stanley Pons and Martin Fleischmann, but they were wrong in their assumption that nuclear reactions were creating the excess heat, Mills said.
Under Mills' theory, the electrons in hydrogen atoms drop to energy levels below what was thought to be the lowest level under conventional quantum mechanics. Dropping to these lower levels requires a release of energy as heat.
Haven Bergeson, who directs the physics group for the National Cold Fusion Institute at the University of Utah, said he was unfamiliar with Mills and his work and could not comment on its specifics.
''On the surface, it seems like an unlikely idea,'' Bergeson said. ''It's a line of thinking that I don't think any of us have followed.''
John Huizenga, a University of Rochester nuclear chemist who co-chaired the Department of Energy's cold-fusion review panel, said he also knew nothing of the work, but thought it difficult to take the claim seriously.
Huizenga, who has previously said that cold fusion would require ''a succession of miracles,'' said Mills' work appears to be a case of willingness to surrender a well-accepted and proven theory for the sake of sketchy experimental evidence.